Jocist Women Seminar, Leuven, 27-28 October 2022


American Academy of Religion; University of Divinity, Melbourne; King’s College, London; KADOC – KU Leuven; Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies; Dondeynefonds, KU Leuven; LACIIR  (Latin American and the Caribbean  Interdisciplinary Initiative on  Religion),  Florida International University, Miami, Fl, USA; Australian Cardijn Institute, Perth, Australia.


As part of a wider project, this international workshop will explore whether and how Joseph Cardijn’s theological method, (“See-Judge-Act”) with its emphasis on the truth of experience, enabled significant contributions by women.


This seminar is aimed at researchers/academics working in fields such as contemporary Catholic history, history of worker movements, practical theology, Lived Catholicism; and others with lived experience of, or interest in movements inspired by Cardijn.

Two parts

The webinar will take place in two parts:

a) In-person sessions at KADOC, Leuven on Thursday 27 and Friday morning 28 October, and

b) An online seminar 3pm-7pm on Friday 28 October to enable international participation.


With a focus on the leaders and members of specialised Catholic Action and other movements inspired by the spirituality and methods of the Jeunesse Ouvrière Chrétienne (JOC), or in English YCW, we are asking:

  • Whether and how the Jocist emphasis on quotidian and apparently mundane experience shapes religious engagement for social change among Jocist women?
  • What enables and what constrains contributions to leadership by women in Jocist movements in diverse global contexts?
  • Whether and how the Jocist theological method broadens and subverts traditional gender assumptions?

More information or Stefan Gigacz

Register via Eventbrite

Registration at the workshop is free but participants will need to fund travel and accommodation.

Register to participate via Zoom

Project website:

Project Team

Prof. Ana Maria Bidegain, Florida International University

Prof. Dr. Dries Bosschaert, KU Leuven

Ms Lorena Garcia Mourelle, University of Uruguay,

Dr Stefan Gigacz, University of Divinity

Dr Alana Harris, King’s College London

Dr Pat Jones, University of Durham

Mr Sam Kuijken, KADOC, Leuven, Belgium

Prof Katharine Massam, University of Divinity

Dr Charles Mercier, University of Bordeaux

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Leuven Town Hall


Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 3.0

IYCW Archives at KADOC

The archives of the International Young Christian Workers (IYCW), also known as the Jeunesse Ouvrière Chrétienne Internationale (JOCI), are now consultable at KADOC. Numbering over 800 boxes and spanning ca. 80 meters, they cover the IYCW from the establishment of the International Secretariat of the Young Christian Workers in 1945 up until the early 2000s.

The archives form a rich, coherent whole and shed a light on all aspects of the IYCW, from its internal structures, councils and tensions to its external relations with other (Catholic) organizations and the Vatican. Their most striking characteristic is, without doubt, their vast geographical scope. At one point in time, the YCW was present in almost 100 different countries. As a result, the numerous “country-files” contain precious documents on every corner of the world, from the Virgin Islands to the German Democratic Republic. 

The disclosure of the IYCW-archives opens a field of opportunities for international researchers. First and foremost, the history of the organizations remains to be written. Moreover, the archives contain, for instance, crucial evidence for the study of Cardijn’s See-Judge-Act method which spread across the world, influenced the doctrine of the Catholic Church and is still widely used by Catholic movements today.

Country files

The “country-files”, for their part, allow for case-studies on the development of the YCW and its emancipatory force in certain regions or countries while the external contacts allow for an analysis of the network of Catholic international organizations and/or their representative status in the body of the United Nations.

However, more than anything else, the IYCW-archives offer the researcher a window on political, societal and religious evolutions that took place from 1945 onwards. From the rise and fall of South-American dictatorships to the Vietnam War; from the turbulent 60s to South-African Apartheid and immigration and integration in Europe; from Vatican II and the rise of Liberation Theology to contemporary religious diversity; the IYCW witnessed, influenced and reacted to defining currents and episodes of the post-war period. As such, the IYCW-archives are a useful source for almost any research on the second half of the 20th century. 


Relocation of the IYCW Archives in the KADOC Catholic Documentation Centre of the University of Leuven (IYCW)

Archiving progress: what KADOC is doing to conserve the IYCW heritage (IYCW)


BE/942855/322 Archives International Young Christian Workers (IYCW), 1925-2012 (KADOC)